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Will there ever be a mile-high skyscraper? - Stefan Al


8,336 Questions Answered

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In 1956, architect Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a mile-high skyscraper, a building five times as high as the Eiffel Tower. While this massive tower was never built, today bigger and bigger buildings are going up around the world. How did these impossible ideas turn into architectural opportunities? Stefan Al explains how these megastructures became fixtures of our city skylines.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mile High Tower in 1956, although never realized, closely resembles giant skyscrapers that are being constructed today, such as the Jeddah Tower. Wright intuitively designed the tower as a steeple to minimize wind pressure. Read here more about why his tower is increasingly relevant today in this preview of Stefan Al’s new book on supertall buildings.

In some areas, in particular near the Pacific Ocean, skyscrapers are built to withstand the strong pressure of extreme winds during typhoons and hurricane. In other areas, such as near fault lines, skyscrapers are constructed to survive earthquakes. Sometimes, skyscrapers are built to be withstand both. For instance, the tuned mass damper of the Taipei 101 skyscraper helps decrease the lateral displacements of both typhoons and earthquakes. See this TED-Ed video on why buildings collapse during earthquakes and how this can be prevented. Concrete, the world’s most widely used construction material, can be reinforced with steel bars or fibers to make it more resilient for earthquakes. And some people are even working on self-healing concrete, as this TED-Ed video shows, with concrete that can repair its own cracks.

If you want to find out more about the world’s 100 tallest skyscrapers, it is worth checking out the Skyscraper Center, The Global Tall Building Database of the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats. You can see what materials the towers are made of and what type of functions they contain. Which skyscraper is your favorite?

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Stefan Al
  • Director Franz Palomares
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Designer Tara Sunil Thomas
  • Illustrator Tara Sunil Thomas
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Fact-Checker Joseph Isaac
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler

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